Unlocking the value of data

At Arjuna we believe that IT services will increasingly be delivered by a complex, interconnected network of federated service and data providers. Providers will consume data and services from each other, organisations will cooperate together to share services to mutual advantage, cloud service brokerage and trading will be commonplace. We believe that much of the complexity in these federated networks will come from the need to manage service agreements between organisations and departments within organisations. The current lack of support for service agreements represents a significant barrier to the uptake of the cloud by organisations who understand that change is an inevitable aspect of any business.

Requiring consumers to sign up to (or tick box) a legal document for the supply of data or other online services has two distinct disadvantages. Firstly, the terms of the contract are difficult to interpret at run-time and it may therefore be impossible for either consumer or provider to effectively monitor the service to ensure it is behaving as the agreement promised. Secondly, legal documents are time-consuming and expensive to vary. However, variation of service agreements is vital not only in order to provide consumers with choice but will also be required in order to allow for change over time. And the shorter time taken to vary the service agreement, the greater the ability to maintain optimal customer relationships.

In our view, the inability to capture and then dynamically vary service agreements will significantly constrain enterprises’ consumption of third party services in the cloud. Until this problem is resolved, enterprises (and individuals) will be restricted to the consumption of flexible services with poorly defined quality of service, or of inflexible services backed by formal contracts.

This scenario is particularly true for the provision of data as it is relatively easy to define policy for the access to data. Who can and who can't access it? What part of the data can be accessed under what circumstances? What security protocols must be in place? How will its use be licensed? What prices will be charged for its use in different scenarios? By predetermining these policies and encapsulating them within Agility DataBroker the data provider can be assured that their checks and balances will be enforced and they will also have the option of dynamically changing those policies as drivers necessitate.

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